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Typos in the commands with disastrous consequences are rare but the destructive effects can be tremendous.
I once automatically typed /etc instead of etc trying to delete directory to free space on a backup directory on a production server (/etc probably in engraved in sysadmin head as it is typed so often and can be substituted for etc subconsciously). I realized that it was mistake and cancelled the command, but it was a fast server and one third of /etc was gone. The rest of the day was spoiled... Actually not completely: I learned quite a bit about the behavior of AIX in this situation and the structure of AIX /etc directory this day so each such disaster is actually a great learning experience, almost like one day training course ;-). But it's much less nerve wracking to get this knowledge from the course...
Another interesting thing is having backup was not enough is this case -- backup software stopped working. The same was true for telnet and ssh. And this was a remote server is a datacenter across the country. I restored the directory on the other non-production server (overwriting its /etc directory with the help of operations, tell me about cascading errors and Murphy law :-) netcat helped.
In such cases network services with authentication stop working and the
only way to transfer files is using CD/DVD, USB drive or
netcat. That's why it is useful
to have netcat on servers:
is the last resort file transfer program when services with authentication
like ftp or scp stop working. It is especially useful to have it if
the datacenter is remote.
Just imagine having the sendmail.cf file in /etc. Now, I
was working on the sendmail stuff and had come up with lots of sendmail.cf.xxx
which I wanted to get rid of so I typed "rm -f sendmail.cf. *".
At first I was surprised about how much time it took to remove some 10 files or so. Hitting the interrupt key, when I finally saw what had happened was way to late, though.
Fortune has it that I'm a very lazy person. That's why I never bothered
to just back up directories with data that changes often. Therefore I managed
to restore /etc successfully before rebooting... :-) Happy end, after all.
Of course I had lost the only well working version of my
rm -rf /tmp/foo/bar/ *
rm -rf /tmp/foo/bar/*
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